H2O | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

H20, Neo-Futurists. Midway through writer-director Greg Allen's clownish love story, the three performers step out of the action and address the audience, describing their first dates with their now long-term partners. As they speak, they capture tiny segments of their lovers' faces, projected onto handkerchiefs they hold before them. Although each character reveals only a few well-chosen details, it seems we come to know their entire lives together.

Drawing such psychological and emotional richness from tiny incidents has long been Allen's trademark, yet it's curiously lacking in most of H2O. He tries to create an archetypal lovers' journey, from brainless infatuation to disillusioned heartache to bitter regret, but presents only a broad outline. The show works best when its imagery is simultaneously concrete and poetic; the lovers stand on an air mattress, once the seat of their passion, and silently listen to it deflate. But more often the symbology seems arbitrary; the lovers spend the first 15 minutes offering water to each other in a dozen different ways, but nothing in the script suggests the significance water might have to either character.

Heather Riordan and Sean Cooper are likable and honest as the lovers, but without the kind of comic precision that made Allen's Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious such a success, their intentions are often vague. As the omnipresent stage manager, Michelle Dawson is left to watch from the sidelines, with no meaningful stake in the action.

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